Albert street reconstruction (ii)

Feb 25, 2011, Letter from Councilor Holmes to Nancy Schepers:

As you are aware $610K has been allocated for the design of the Albert St. rehabilitation project (Project # 906056). This integrated project will have an Eastern terminus point of Bronson Ave. It is necessary to see the scope of this project expanded to include the realignment of the Bronson/Albert/Slater intersections, including the necessary funding required for all appropriate studies and Environmental Assessments.

As has been discussed previously there is a need to make improvements to the alignment of the Albert/Slater/Bronson intersections. These intersections, in their current alignment are antiquated, inefficient and unsafe for both pedestrians and cyclists. This is problematic, as it has been identified as the primary linkage between the (upper) Escarpment District and the (lower) Lebreton Flats in the Council Approved Escarpment Area District Plan.

The (lower) Flats area has seen significant residential redevelopment over the past five years; this development will continue for the foreseeable future. It is anticipated that the conclusion of the Claridge, Phase I development will result in thousands of new residents living in this area. The mobility demands of these new residents will require efficient and convenient transportation networks (sidewalks, cycling lanes etc.). Although a portion of this infrastructure is already in place (City and NCC multi-purpose pathways, Pooley’s Bridge) or is soon to be built (East-West Segregated Bike Lane) the critical connection (Albert/Slater/Bronson) of this network remains unresolved.

There is an opportunity to address this matter within the scope of three current projects: LRT/DOTT, Albert Reconstruction and Bronson Avenue reconstruction. All three of these projects will impact the functionality; physical design and future use these intersections. It stands to reason that the implementation (including the necessary realignment underground utilities) be included as part of either the Albert St. or Bronson Ave. reconstruction projects. In doing so we would limit the interruption and impact on area residents, pedestrians, cyclists and vehicular traffic; while at the same time achieving significant savings in construction costs.

In addition to the projects noted above I am aware that the terms of reference for the Downtown Ottawa Mobility Overlay Study (DOMOS) will be presented to Committee in the near future. I understand that DOMOS will result in the development of a significant planning document that will address future land use, urban design and transportation planning in the downtown core (specifically the post-surface transit corridor of Albert and Slater Streets), including the intersections of Bronson/Albert/Slater. However, recognizing that future implementation of any of the DOMOS recommendations would not occur within the next decade (coupled with the intersections already limited functionality) justifies reconstruction in the immediate future. It is safe to assume that guiding principles of the Council approved Escarpment Area District Plan (EADP) will be incorporated into the DOMOS, and that reconstruction of this intersection, according EADP would be in-line with DOMOS findings.

With regards to a potential design, during the course of the Public Advisory Committee meetings for Bronson Ave. reconstruction, the project team was challenged by the community to develop a rationalized and sensible design for these intersections. Both the consultants and city staff agreed that the status-quo design of this intersection presented a challenge to pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular mobility. Accordingly staff provided the committee with two conceptual designs for review. Staff clearly explained to the PAC that the design was outside the mandate of Construction Services and would need to be reviewed internally by Traffic/Transportation staff. I have provided you a copy of the design that was unanimously supported by the PAC.

I am aware that the concept design proposed by staff includes the acquisition of a significant parcel of land from the NCC, however I do not see this as an impediment to moving forward. As I mentioned previously there is an opportunity to initiate dialogue with the NCC on the potential acquisition of this land during LRT discussions. The proposed realignment (shifting Slater to the North) would allow for the creation of a significant, and valuable, parcel of development land for either the NCC or the City of Ottawa. I would be interested in exploring the option of retaining this parcel of land for use as a City Park.

I have also included, for your information, correspondence regarding the Albert St. reconstruction project from the Dalhousie Community Association. I agree with many of the points they have raised, this is a great opportunity to make significant improvements, including increased tree planting, wider sidewalks and enhanced cycling/pedestrian facilities to the current environment. I would like to see this project assigned to staff that are familiar with working in the urban core area, and who are amenable to accommodating both pedestrian cycling facilities. I would like to review and discuss the terms of reference of this project during our next monthly meeting.

Kind regards,